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6 Principles of Effective Email Marketing

Email is an online marketing tool that has the potential to reach a huge number of people who are interested in your products or services.

And while it is possibly one of the oldest (well, let’s call it: “most well established”) methods of outreach, research continues to show that it can be very effective when it’s used properly.

Of course, blasting out emails to anyone and everyone can’t exactly be referred to as “effective.” That kind of behavior is the kind of thing that gave email marketing a bad name in the first place.

There are, however, some simple principles you can use to reach more people, increase the open rate, and find more success.

1.  Make a Specific Offer

In an article on Marketing Experiments, there’s a great quote that really sums up our goal with every email, and that is:

“Specificity converts. In marketing, there should be no such thing as a general message. The marketer communicates with an aim. This aim should dictate everything else we say. This aim should influence, even constrain, every word we say.”

If your email is just a generic reminder that you exist, chances are it will be 100% successful… at reminding people that you exist… and also that you like to send them useless emails.

You can improve your conversion rates with specificity.

Your subject line should be specific about what they will get for opening the email, then the content should be specific about what you are offering.

Just remember that you’re not trying to sell the product or service with this email. You need to let your website do that.

Your offer, then, simply needs to be specific enough to give them a reason to click over to your website.

2.  Make a Specific Offer in the Right Way to the Right Audience

You’re clear and specific about what you offer, but that alone doesn’t mean people are going to rush to click your call to action.

Especially if what you offer has no connection to the person receiving the email.

You can be completely specific, you can have the greatest offer, but it won’t have much impact with the wrong audience.

Or if you present it in the wrong way.

A real estate marketing campaign, for example, will have to consider both buyers and sellers. It should be able to provide information at the right time about the right neighborhoods and homes in the right places. Weekly emails would likely be overkill and would have a better chance of annoying, rather than enticing, potential customers.

On the other hand, if you’re running an email campaign for an ecommerce store, you may want to up the number of emails because your customers will want to have the insider information on the best deals or new projects.

You can instantly reach a huge audience through an email campaign, you just have to clearly define that audience and determine what approach will give the recipients a reason to click.

3.  Communicate Like You Would on Social Media

When you treat your emails like a flier that gets shoved into every mailbox on the street, the owners of said mailboxes are going to treat them the same… and throw them away.

We do tend to think of email as advertisements and announcements, and while that’s not exactly a bad thing, it isn’t the most effective way to reach out to your customers.

Think of it like social media. If you treated ever social media posts like an advertisement, you’d very quickly lose those followers, too.

So, let’s think of email as another way to be social. That’s what email is supposed to be, isn’t it? A way to stay connected with friends and family?

Take a look at this example (from Marketing Experiments again) to see one example of how writing like a human would write to another human “absolutely crushed” the performance of their traditional emails.

4.  Don’t Expect to Always Get It Right the First Time

Don’t expect perfection from your very first email. You can do really well with your first email – assuming you’ve started your campaign on the right foot – but it’s going to take some work, some tests, and some re-working to really grab all the potential here.

Email marketing is like every other element of online marketing, meaning you need to rely on analytics rather than assumptions.

You may be surprised what the numbers show you.

For example, you may have seen some numbers before that are all about “the best time to send emails” or the “best days of the week to send emails” or “how many times a months you should send emails.”

There have already been several studies to determine when the best times are to send an email. Some of them are also quick to point out that there’s no one right answer here, and that different people open email and different times.

A lawyer for example, could be more likely to open emails between 10 am and 2 pm, while a nurse may open emails anywhere between 10 in the morning and 10 at night.

The point is, all this research is a great place to get started planning your strategies, but until you start gathering your own data on your own target audience, a generality is all it will be.

You can do a lot more with specifics than you can generalities.

And while you won’t have all the specifics on your first email blast, you can watch and record and consistently develop the campaign to do a little better with each send.

5.  Make the Value Very Clear

From the subject line to the content and images, you need to make sure you’re connecting the value you offer to the reader.

In the SEO world, we often talk about how you only have a few seconds to capture your customers attention once they land on your home page.

With email, the same urgency applies, but in a different way.

When someone arrives on your website, it’s safe to assume that they at least had some kind of interest in your products/services/content because they actively searched for and clicked on your site.

When someone opens an email, they are expecting you to prove your worth pretty fast because you came to them. They didn’t come to you.

They’re not looking to see if you have what they want. They’re looking for a reason to delete your email.

If the value of opening the email and clicking the CTA is clear, you’ll have a much better chance of converting a casual reader to a serious customer.

6.  Don’t Ask for Much, But Be Clear What You’re Asking For

An email with a call to action in the range of “subscribe now for $10 a month” isn’t likely to get much traction.

Don’t try to sell anything with your email except a click.

That means selling them on the value on the other side of that click.

If you’ve connected with them, and spoken to them as a real person, this shouldn’t be too hard to do.

At the same time, you don’t really need to beat around the bush. You can be clear about the fact that you are selling something.

People tend to be more open to directness. If they feel that you’re trying to be sneaky about the sale, they’ll probably just hit that delete button.

Building Relationships with Email

No one wants to jump into a committed relationship from the very first handshake. We tend to want to explore the possibilities a little more before taking anything to the next level.

When you build an effective email campaign, you can, in essence, get your potential customers to look you in the eye and give them a firm handshake. They may not respond immediately, but this is an important first step in any relationship.

The next step is to follow through using the above guidelines. If you keep at it, email marketing could be a powerful weapon in your online marketing arsenal.

The post 6 Principles of Effective Email Marketing appeared first on SEO.com.

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How to Work Remotely Without Going Crazy

A woman shaking her head so that her long hair covers her face. Looks a bit crazy.

This is a contribution by Ronald Wolf. Ron got most of his experience from consulting web design and SEO companies like GWM.

I added line breaks, text formatting and clarified some points, especially the last paragraph. Ron approved the changes.

Many of us regard 9 to 5 office jobs as pure hell and dream of working remotely. It seems like a dream come true –

  • you can establish your own working hours
  • you can design your own working surroundings
  • and – most importantly – you can work from everywhere in the world.

But is it really that simple? Working without the strains of office cubicles and the need to punch the clock requires self-discipline, and we all know that this isn’t the most common characteristic.

Working remotely doesn’t mean you don’t have a boss anymore and there are some challenges you’ll have to face along the way.

Taking this path also has its rules. They seem quite simple, but they are not that easy to accomplish as they seem.

When you are someone who is used to having a boss breading down your neck, getting the work done remotely could make you crazy.

 

Whenever

This is the number one common mistake: the fact that you were productive in the office doesn’t mean you’re gonna stay productive at home.

Now that you don’t have strict working hours it may seem that you can work whenever you want. This is where the problem starts – when do we actually want to work?

This is how your productivity decreases, and in the end, you’ll be forcing yourself to get the job done which will make the task even harder.

It will seem to you that you have even less time for yourself than you had it while working in the office.

It’s a contradiction that will certainly make you crazy after some time. To avoid that, you need to make your own working schedule, and you need to stick to it.

At the beginning, it’s good to keep the same working hours you had in the office and then to slowly adapt them to your own needs. Contrary to the popular belief, this is not an easy transition!

You will need time to make it function. You need to find the time of the day when you feel most productive and make the most of it.

Only after you establish your own individual schedule you will be able to make exceptions and enjoy fully deserved freedom.

 

Wherever

This second most common mistake affects your productivity through the lack of concentration. Even when you’re alone it can be hard to focus.

Everybody is trying to escape from depressing office cubicles, but working from your comfortable couch at home is going to make it hard for you to focus on the tasks at hand.

There are various distractions inside everybody’s home – family obligations (especially when you have kids), pets, the temptation to turn on the TV, etc.

The constant lure of distractions is why you need to set up a working space in your home that will become your new office.

You need a place where you can shut the door behind you to fully dedicate yourself to the work that needs to be done.

You should carefully consider which part of your home is most suitable to become an office.

Soft furniture in which you can ‛sink in’ is not the best solution because you don’t want to fall asleep in the middle of your work. Also your back will hurt after a few hours.

You need an organized desk and a firm chair (which doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a comfortable one). Get rid of all distraction along with a TV set (unless your line of work requires it).

Having a broad window and a lot of natural light is always a plus, but a view can sometimes be distracting as well.

In case you happen to work in a seaside town during the peak of the summer, it would be a smart move to pull the shades down.

And the last thing – dress up for the occasion. You’re not in an office so you don’t need a suit and a tie, but you’re not supposed to spend an entire day in your pajamas, either.

Get up and get dressed properly. This way you won’t fall into a temptation to remain in your bed with a laptop in your lap.

 

Whatever

This is not even a mistake, this is a pure delusion. There are some jobs that are impossible to be done by working remotely. Trying to get them done this way can only drive you completely crazy.

It’s understandable that everyone would like to travel the world and work while doing it, but first, you need to make sure you’ve got the right job for that.

The second thing is that you can’t just sit at home (or a beach) and do everything that falls into your hands. Even when you’re working in the office you need to ‛fight’ for your assignments.

It’s not a secret that there is a competition between co-workers, especially today when no job position is safe and it’s becoming more difficult to stand out.

When you’re working remotely you have no insight into the activities of your colleagues and you’re practically left in the dark in many cases.

The further you are from the office, the more your professional visibility decreases. People might even completely forget about you and your skills.

Every established company is advised to highlight personal strengths of every employee on their website and frequently update them.

Potential customers may not be able to meet you in the office so they need to be able to meet you online – out of sight is out of mind.

 

Thank you to Chris King, Bill Marshal and Andrew Akesson for helping me with the crazy headline!

 

The post How to Work Remotely Without Going Crazy appeared first on SEO 2.0.

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How to Make Your Website Less Scary and Intrusive to Gain More Business

Creepy looking guy wearing a red hoody squats in the dark. His eyes are ligh graffiti crosses, his mouth a light line. It seems there is a car in the background - we see the headlights.

When it comes to online business: are you a creepy stalker invading people’s privacy for profit?

  • Do you have dozens of trackers installed on your site?
  • Do you want visitors to allow you to send notifications up front on the first visit?
  • Do you let your ads follow people around the Web in a creepy way?

Not just tech-savvy users hate and block intrusive marketing tactics. They’re also unethical and harm the perception of your website.

You effectively scare people away! They won’t be doing business with you whether you are

  1. just a publisher
  2. running an online store
  3. or selling services on the Web.

It’s not hard to fathom. Being creepy is actually a bad habit in private but is downright self-sabotage when you ask people to spend time, effort or money on your site.

Are You Stalking Your Visitors You Creep?

Yeah, I know. Many marketers will advise you to “retarget” your visitors and the likes to increase profits but you actually stalk your users or let other stalkers do it.

Most business sites also do use Google Analytics because it’s free and everybody loves Google. Does everybody really?

Privacy Badger blocks Facebook and Google on a website.

There is a growing unease about Google and Facebook tracking every single step of ours online. Protecting your online privacy seems to be common sense by now.

Yet most website owners still treat privacy of their visitors lightly. They trade user data for some free tools or scripts. Is it worth it?

Protect Users or Wreck Yourself

By now there are many tools to protect your privacy online you can use directly in your browser – ideally Firefox – as Google which builds Chrome makes money off your “big data”.

Personally I use Privacy Badger by the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) – an American non profit fighting for our online rights and Findx Privacy Control.

There is also a similar extension by the DuckDuckGo team which is probably a good start for beginners. I like the way Privacy Badger works though.

I have been using Privacy Badger for over a year. At first many sites literally broke when I visited them with privacy protection.

Many sites literally use hundreds of potential trackers on their unsuspecting users! Consider Wired.com – the website of the popular technology magazine.

239 tracking items blocked on Wired.com

I can’t link Wired.com here for security reasons! The Wired website is spyware! The FindX Privacy Control extension blocked 239 suspicious items! And guess what? The site still worked.

What does that mean? Wired used up to 239 redundant tracking scripts that you didn’t even need to load to make the website work or view the content!

Of course it’s mostly third party scripts and images. Google ads and analytics by themselves were responsible for dozens of trackers. Every image Google shows reports back on you!

Wired can get away with it why can’t I? Well, Wired exists for almost 20 years and has a faithful audience. Even I do visit it despite all the surveillance.

Imagine a site you don’t even know though that x-rays you on entry. That’s nono. That’s like a stranger looking under your skirt or opening your zipper.

Yet many sites add dozens or even hundreds of cookies to your local machine. Due to the European privacy law they have to ask for consent. It sometimes looks like this:

A wesbite ask for permission to use numerous cookies for all kinds of purposes. It's a dialog provided by Cookiebot.

This site is even one of the better examples – it just adds 60 cookies and only 34 of them “for marketing purposes”. I have seen worse ones. I rather decline in such cases.

Most of the cookies are used for tracking and are “unnecessary”.

By itself the idea and implementation by Cookiebot is a good one – it is also compliant with the EU privacy law. You just need to make sure to limit the number of cookies!

Lack of Privacy May Cost You Money

Some people by now think I’m one of those paranoid “tinfoil hat” nerds. I’m not advocating hiding in the woods with a bunch of survivalists though.

We need to use technology ind the information age or we’ll get left behind. I still want to be able to use the Web but I don’t want to be exploited by “big data” while at it.

Even in case you don’t care for privacy you will surely admit that some of the ramifications are unsettling. You surely care about money, don’t you?

Based on your Internet activity or data you share you may see a different pricing online. In simple terms: lack of privacy will cost you more money!

Based on your profile some products won’t even get shown to you while others may be overtly promoted.

For example inner city Afro-American youths are much more likely to see ads for alcohol while they won’t get shown real estate ads.

Who are you on the Web? Are you yourself with your

  • ethnicity and skin color
  • religion or lack there of
  • sexual orientation and gender
  • age and birth date
  • political bias and affiliations

or a carefully crafted persona made to be as likeable as possible?

Each of those very common “data points” may have some negative impact on your online and real life. For example I can’t see a lot of online content because I’m in Germany.

A lot of video content and music is limited to the United States or at least blocked in Germany as Google’s YouTube fails to pay German copyright holders.

  • To see videos or listen to music that is “not available in your country” you have to use a so called VPN or Virtual Private Network like Proton VPN that hides your actual whereabouts.
  • Muslims are not only subject to discrimination on the street but also on the Web. Are you sure you want to disclose that you believe in Allah?
  • Studies show that women are much more likely to be harassed online than men. Homosexuals or transgender people are exposed to even more hate speech.
  • Some online stores show different pricing depending on your background and browsing history. You may pay more than others without realizing it.
  • Age is clearly often used to decide whether you can access some online content. It’s not only about adult topics though.

Ageism becomes also apparent when you have to pay more because you’re older. Just think insurance policies.

When you follow the news online you might have noticed over the recent years that increasingly more and more people tend to agree with you. That’s the so called filter bubble.

Algorithms notice what you like and only show you items based on your political preferences. In the US this has led to a completely unexpected presidency by Donald Trump.

Many websites collect data like age or gender routinely. Just to sign up somewhere or to buy something you need to give away vital information on yourself.

Yet an increasing number of people – potential customers – are not fond of such random data collection even you have a – or despite of your – huge privacy policy.

Thus not only Internet users who end up on your site may lose money. You – the website owner – may lose money too when you neglect actual data protection.

I don’t even refer to the actual threat of getting sued when you don’t comply with local privacy laws . I mean losing customers because of lack of or downright disregard for privacy.

You Have a Privacy Policy? Awesome! Can I Read it?

Excerpt from Ecosia privacy policy explaining clearly that they us no third party trackers like Gogle Analytics

A privacy policy – some people already regard it as a “profiling policy” – may actually backfire. Most such policies are written in undecipherable legalese only lawyers can understand after many hours of study.

Even by skimming such wall of text written in alien language many people get scared. You only share the data with your partners, advertisers and everybody else? Back off!

There are some examples of actually human readable privacy policies out there you can not only understand but they don’t scare you with their message. Sadly they are few and far in between.

It seems the more complicated a privacy policy is the more suspicious activity of dubious data sharing it is hiding. Just think Facebook.

While Facebook may get away with an egregious tracking record because it is too big to fail and indispensable for most people your website may not.

Now with the new European privacy law every website serving visitors from the EU needs a plain language privacy policy. I have created one for myself. Yes, you can read it!

Know When to Ask for Private Information and Permission or if at All

One creepy yet wide-spread practice many business websites adhere to is asking strangers for private information or access to their mailboxes.

This is the infamous “I fcuk on the first date” mentality. You enter a site and have to close a pop up asking for your mail address, a notification permission dialog and a consent notice for cookies.

Some sites also ask for permission to have access to location data – that is where you are or where you live. No, thank you!

When I asked my colleagues on Twitter most of them mentioned these issues. Even as Web professionals with technical know how they are ostracized by such sites.

Thank you Dean Cruddace, Zack Neary-Hayes, Andrew Akesson for feedback and additional insights. Click their names for their feedback!

The privacy-oriented Firefox browser already allows to block most of these requests altogether out of the box:

Firefox brwoser permission that allow to block notification rquests by default along with pop-ups.

It’s a shame! These features can be very useful when used responsively. They are not just tools for stalkers and creepy marketers!

Personally I’m trying my best to reconcile website optimization and privacy needs. You need analytics to know how your website works and whether people really view it.

What you don’t really need unless for selfish reasons is tracking across domains and similar privacy breaches. Learn from the Facebook debacle!

Stop treating website visitors like easy prey. The goal of a website is not to make money off unsuspecting visitors by tricking them into giving away their data.

You need to convince people that you offer value. That’s marketing. Attract privacy oriented visitors to gain more business!

Stalking and selling private data is crime even if the laws aren’t applicable everywhere yet. Just because some sites still can get away with it does not mean it’s OK.

The post How to Make Your Website Less Scary and Intrusive to Gain More Business appeared first on SEO 2.0.

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Yoast SEO Import & Export features

When you’re a web developer or SEO, working with many clients, you probably have a set of settings for Yoast SEO for WordPress that you prefer. You might have a default title template, for instance, default XML sitemap settings, etc. This post will teach you how to easily apply those settings to a site quickly using the Yoast SEO Import and Export features. In addition, you’ll meet a couple of other import and export features in Yoast SEO.

Making a reusable Yoast SEO Export file

Let’s make a reusable settings file! First, pick a site and set it up as you would any site, applying all of your default SEO settings. Then you go to the Yoast SEO Import and Export page (Yoast SEO → Tools → Import and Export). On this page, you’ll find a couple of tabs:

The Tools section has all the import and export tools you need

Click on Export for the first step. After that, click the blue button called Export Your Yoast SEO Settings. You’ll see you settings appear in the text field. Copy the contents of the field to a new plain text file. Filter out any site specific meta data and save the file in a location you can find it again.

In the file, please exclude taxonomy metadata, as you don’t want to include specific category meta descriptions and so forth. This is not really something you wish to apply to every site.

The secret of Yoast SEO Export files

The (not so secret) secret of Yoast SEO Export files is that a simple text file contains everything you need. It’ll look something like this:

All your settings in a plain text file

Each set of options starts with the option name in brackets, like [wpseo] and [wpseo_permalinks] in the example above. The reason you’ll want to edit it is because you want it to be reusable. So you’ll want to remove any and all site specific data, like a company logo & name, verification strings for Bing, Google, Yandex, etc.

Once you’ve made your changes, simply save the text file.

Import the Yoast SEO Export file

Now, on the site you want to apply these settings to, go to the Yoast SEO Import page (Yoast SEO → Tools → Import and Export, the first tab), open your new text file, copy its contents, paste it in the field and click Import settings. That’s it. Nothing more to it, you’ve easily applied all your default settings to your new site.

If you set up a lot of sites, this will save you valuable minutes every time you do so!

Import from other SEO plugins

If you are coming from another SEO plugin, you’re in luck. Yoast SEO automatically detects your old plugin and can import all your settings. You’ll be up and running in no-time.

Import and Export in Yoast SEO Premium

Yoast SEO Premium has several other options to import and export data, these include the possibility to export meta data about your content to CSV, and import and export redirects in a variety of ways.

Export keyphrase data to CSV

A cool addition to Yoast SEO Premium is the possibility to export data about your content to an CSV file. This way, you can use this giant overview for doing a content audit, for instance, or to quickly see which posts haven’t been optimized correctly. You can choose to export your post with the following options:

  • Export keyphrase scores
  • Export URL
  • Export title
  • Export SEO title
  • Export meta description
  • Export readability score

Import the CSV into Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel and start working!

Export your keyphrases and start auditing your content

Import and export redirects

A big time-saver if you’re working a lot with redirects: importing and exporting of redirects. Yoast SEO Premium users can import redirects in a number ways, like from well-known WordPress redirect plugins, to manually from an CSV file. You can also import your redirects directly from your .htaccess file. If you need to export your redirects to check up on these or move these to another site, you can export the data to a CSV.

Of course, we have an article on how to import redirects using Yoast SEO.

Read more: Why you should buy Yoast SEO Premium »

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